Positive Brush Strokes

Jessalyn Villegas and Winnie Carpenter paint the walls in the locker room at Hoopa Valley High School. / Photo courtesy of Vickie Kurtz

By VICKI KURTZ, Hoopa Valley High School

Bullying takes on different forms; one of them is through graffiti on public walls. The graffiti is hurtful without the target even seeing what’s written personally, as it spreads like wildfire throughout the high school population. Graffiti isn’t always about bullying, it can also be an artistic expression; however, most graffiti at school on the locker room lockers, stalls, and walls is not usually pretty—in fact, it can be downright embarrassing.

Recently, the girls’ locker room at Hoopa Valley High School has become a topic of discussion. Last month, visiting volleyball teams “tweeted” (a public social forum called Twitter) about the disgusting things the girls at Hoopa High were putting on their locker room walls. An embarrassed varsity player overheard a conversation between visiting teams at our JV basketball tournament talking to their teammates about the gross stuff the girls at Hoopa wrote on the lockers.

These incidents appalled the students at Hoopa High; one female student athlete voiced the despair and frustration felt by many, “We have a good school with really great people, but this is what everyone thinks about us! All because some girls have no pride—we all get judged like that!”

Well, the students decided enough was enough and they approached the Student Leadership class and supervising adults, Hiedi Jarnaghan and Irma Matilton, and asked for a solution. Through the Safe & Supportive Schools Grant (S3), directed by Rose Francia, HVHS’s Vice Principal, and Beverly Stevens, KTJUSD’s Maintenance Supervisor, the money to paint the girls’ locker room was supplied. The paint store, Sherman Williams, in Eureka worked out a good deal for the school and the wheels were put into motion. In addition, Irma Matilton is currently working on a grant to buy new lockers to replace the original 1960’s version. The leadership class decided to paint the room in school colors: the ceiling and top half of the walls white and the bottom half cardinal. They chose a basket design to be placed in the middle and inspirational sayings to be stenciled throughout. The boys in the class asked for their room to done as well.

The work service project came together on Sunday, December 15, 2013. Eleven students came to school to paint the locker room. Irma told the boys who came to paint: AJ Peterson, Robert Lee, and Andrew Stevens, “Ladies first—once we finish the girls’ locker room, we’ll do the boys’.” The girls who painted were some of Hoopa’s most talented athletes; they work hard to represent the school in a positive light on the volleyball court, basketball court, and softball field; in attendance were: Winnie Carpenter, Onaleece Colegrove, Stella and Mariah Jarnaghan, Claudia Campusano-Patino, Tea McGinnis, Rhea McCoy, and Jessalyn Villegas. These 11 students are perfect examples of student leadership both on the athletic field and in our community.

So one step at a time, Hoopa Valley High School’s student leaders, working side by side with dedicated adults, are making headway on the fight against bullying and the negative reputation of the school in general. Another work day will be scheduled to do a second coat and add the finishing touches, so keep an eye out for an open house invitation to admire the students’ work.

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Date
January 10th, 2014

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